mike watt + the (sort of) secondmen
jerry trebotic - drums
watt - thud staff, spiel
paul roessler - organ, singing
(clockwise from upper left)
steve kaul - the man outside the van
tuesday, may 20 - minneapolis, mn
I pop and goddamn if I ain't gotta piss like a race horse... I'm convinced one reason I can't sleep in is cuz of this. I drink a lot of water after the gig cuz of sweating much while I'm playing and it ends up ready to burst inside me every morning. I am so loving this middle-age shit! the head gets and free and I can both find relief and hose off. we're gonna have to bail early here cuz we gotta make for montrose again (thirty miles west of minneapolis) to get my power amp worked on and to pick up my repaired preamp. love the eden folks much and love the sound they help me make w/my thunder broom. claire's up early too and makes us some scrambled eggs w/garlic - really, really good - english muffins to go w/it too. she asks me if I ever could live anywhere but cal-i-for-nia (insert wisconsin accent here) and I say it would hard to bail from my beloved pedro but if I had to, then maybe somewhere in the desert. that's still cali, huh? 7:30 now and we gotta be off - bye bye and big, big thanks!
third time we've been on this I-94 freeway but this westward way will be our last this tour. very much deja vu all over again as we retrace our steps back to madison. we stop for gas and it's the funniest thing by the cash register - all these pastries, gigantic ones! there's something called "elephant ears" that's the size of a medium pizza! meat loaf-sized cream and candy apples coated so thick that they're as big as cantelopes- shit like that! though we're laughing our asses off, the counter help is not amused. much apologies but we couldn't help it. back on the road, we see a sign for "whisconsin" whisky - a third or the calories and less alcohol - whisky "lite" - oh my. funny shit. west of madison, the I-94 is also the I-39 and the I-90 - a threefer for a while! new scenery too and very beautiful: dairy farms on lush hills and dales. we get through the twin cities by one in the afternoon - no traffic and make montrose by two. this is my first big day driving since the sickness that hit me during that stooges reunion weekend, seven hours. the foam rubber doughnut has helped much and I'm not hurting down where it goes. that's good news for watt. so great to see david eden again, very much so. he tells me all the funny shit that went down when he came to see me and kira at the "bass bash" thing at the namm show back in january - forced into a thirty foot limo w/pantera stuff blasting like twenty people crammed inside and then be taken to a cowboy bar. he escaped and got back by cab to see us play but the thing was in a sports bar that has us in a hole so the folks in front blocked most of what could get seen/heard but he dug kira leaping around and playing her heart out. engineer dave gives me my preamp and I hand him my power amp - both daves love my fan add-ons though I've come along way from when I used ac current to drive the fan on my first eden amp - they both roar w/laughter after getting it in the mail from me and seeing my "work" years ago. some stages I play on have the lights so low they cook your amp to death - I've got three fans on my wt-1000 now, two push and one pull. this is addition to the fan eden already puts on board. I use a twelve volt wall-wart to power these now. what was I thinking w/120 volts of ac? watt is a slow learner! engineer dave says he'll fix my amp up and bring it himself to the saint paul show tomorrow. so great that the man working on my sound machine wants to come see me play. much respect to both davids, truly!
I give the wheel to jer and he gets us back to minneapolis w/paul navigating. we're at the 7th street entry at first avenue. both today and tomorrow's gigs are for steve mcclellan, a true brother to me and such righteous people. I love him. we're staying at his pad in the lynlake part, just south of the club. I can't say enough good stuff about him, playing his gigs are the highlights of my tours. there's such good folks too working here like nate in the office and conrad running the floor - love these guys. watt digs playing this pad. what's a trip tonight is in the other room, motorhead is playing. I talk some w/lemmy, I tell him his bass is wild and much respect for him. I take a picture w/him but my hand is shaking too much and what shitty work I do of it - I get nervous w/folks who put me in awe. god, I wish I could've asked him a million things but I'm too tongue-tied and I don't want to foam on him. he must think I'm a nut. there are giant posters all around w/that shot of me w/two piss bottles hours before that van wreck in sweeden w/j back in the summer of 2000. I hope he doesn't make the connection - my hair is longer there and I have a beard. I just tell him "much respect" and excuse myself. he's way into playing the video games around the club - hours worth by what I see and what people tell me. love the way he wails the bass - whoa! we do a soundcheck w/andy and he lets me use this peavy power amp w/four hundred watts a side that'll get me through the next two gigs. thank you much, andy. I go shave in the head but I must've grabbed an old razor somehow cuz it cuts on my beard in clumps. you gotta push on buttons too to keep the water running (not hot either) so that makes things tough. by some miracle, I don't cut to shit - it's very, very hard to believe cuz the razor keeps catching on me and grabbing on to stubble. what a fucking bozo I am. I gotta be more careful, that was really lucky. it's just shaving too! maybe I'm still nervous over seeing lemmy. you know, I met him years ago in a studio and he was just as nice to me - a very happening cat. I don't know what's up w/me cuz I feel good things about this town, I'm just kind of nervy. I go to the boat.
I think about things, here in the inner sanctum. does energy resonate in a place where it's emanated from? I think he does. I would like to think I could almost ride it like a current or something - even let it fill me and run through me like somehow I could contain forces as intense as a waterfall. maybe I'd have to let my feelings pick up and amplify or rather resonate on those echoes. to be as sensitive and selective for energies from earlier forms, further back in the life of this source? energies from a little one - a younger, smaller little one - cascading through fading days to find themselves absorbed by this crazy bass wielder, bouncing infinitely inside his head, his heart and his very fabric. not all of it dispersing the way a pebble puts circular waves in a pond it splashes into but focused and channeled to white hot pinpoint to explode and sing deep inside him, firing through every fiber and leaping from his eyes, his fingers, filling his expressions in a harmony beyond his best way to try and understand what has/is happening to him. a tiny (gentle even) vibration - so it would at first seem, then the gathering and swirlings of the making of a whirlwind beyond a name or a category to put to it. beyond words - free of words (free at last!) and becoming an enlightening sensations, a current, a charge - one huge pulse even, rarefied and refined by a concentration of infinite beams into a void filled w/expansiveness of anything but void, anything but empty, anything but directionless, not a mere tendency but an overwhelming full, full, fullness - filling, filling, filling - beyond, beyond, beyond any containment by a thought alone - a thought? think, think, thinking like a rose w/petal after petal, forever enclosing the next one and then the next one, on and on... a cascade of chain lightning revelation and wonder, giving birth to yet another and another, birthing and growing, glimmering and glowing... exploding creations onward towards further and further reaches... in my head, I'm speechless - the voices quiet and I am humbled. I've had a head-full and I'm tired. I konk deep...
it must be like four hours later when jer comes to get me. I grab the sling sacks and head for the entry. steve's there and helps me - I figure the little bass is upstairs and steve goes to get it but I find it on the stage - jer's already gotten it. show time, it occurs to me I have my bass = love shirt. a full house, it's quite warm - damn, my fan is in the boat - but I do one of the best gigs I've done here in a while. what a stage here too - this is where the husker's recorded their "land speed record" for me and d. boon's new alliance label twentytwo years ago. someone hollers "let's hear it for the bassman" and I'm thinking "let's hear it for what fires up the bassman" - that's what I would want them to feel cuz to me, this is the essence - this is what I want to truly share. it's not something that is mine, something I can possess but a push, a pressure, an expander I can only be full of and release in gasps, expressions and streams. there are times when I even inhale and these are inspired too. this is very hard to explain but it does come to me in flashes in this town this tour.
I am yanked into a weird (weirder?) state for a little bit by an inability to communicate w/paul over some part of a song, like we're not connected. this frustrates me much and when we get done, I have some words w/him about this. I don't know where else this comes from but frustration. aahh, two sides of from within and then from out. I will never for the life of me figure this out. he is a good soul. it is only a really small part of the set and most of it was very together. it's like growing pains w/myself where I'm trying to get beyond gaps in where I want to be- I wish they could be only adjustments! I will try harder next gig. I tell the folks I read this thing in the weekly here about a methamphetamine problem and show them where I lost some teeth cuz of that. "what's that about?" I ask. I'll tell you, stupid shit - plain and simple. how can you pass down knowledge about doing such fucked-up things to yourself w/out coming on like a cop? I don't know but I just thought I had to say something. it inspires me to have us do "sister ray" for an encore, the second time w/paul for me and jer. he does good.
I sling, folks talk w/me - one's steve from the watt list. good to see him again. there's a cat who just did ten years in the navy as an electrician. he worked in the engine room on a carrier w/people like my pop, who was a machinist mate. I share w/him what I know, not being a navy man but the son of one who listened to his pop recount and explain things. I used to love to hear my pop talk about stuff: engine rooms, navy, other towns - whatever. my pop was easy for me to listen to, hours an hours at a time. I loved it. I miss it. miss him.
I get the boat and bring around to load up - cops follow me and right when I get the port wheel on the sidewalk, I get quick into the club. don't need their hassles - what was I doing wrong anyway - having cali plates? we load up and then head for steve's. paul says he's glad I shared what I did about that chemical shit and shows me the tooth he lost. well, we both have that in our old days and we want so for this young folks not to make the same stupid fuck-ups. love to you, paul. I konk on the patio in a chair thing that you put your legs straight out on but you sit kind of straight up still, tommy jefferson style. I still have flashes of energies in my head but tiredness subsides them eventually and sueneo takes me. noches.
wednesday, may 21 - saint paul, mn
pop and go up stairs to hose off, that's prompts the two little dogs here to yap-yap-yap like crazy. steve's gotta take veronica to school and cindy's got work so that's not too bad - they had to pop anyway. I still feel a little weirded out to start such a commotion so I get scrubbed quick and out the hatch, into the morning sun for a hoof. little do I know this will turn into my longest hoof of the tour, 'pert-near three and a half hours! my first quest is for coff and I find it up north a couple of blocks. I then go west a little bit and find the peace park, it's laid out really pretty w/all kinds of different plants living together amongst a little water fall-like contruction. I get snaps w/the digicamera of all the variety of flowers and such - there's cotton tail rabbits and squirrels running around too. this place resonates in me feelings that quite live up to its name: peaceful. I walk the small paths soft and quiet-like, there's no rush - tonight's gig is in sanit paul and only minutes away so no hellride in the boat required. this makes it a much different morning for me on this tour. right close by is the rose park and though the rose bushes are just stems this time of year - no blooms yet, there's plenty of other beautiful flowers to capture my attention and mesmerize both my nose and eyes. I love it. there's some rudeness - every few minutes, another jet liner passes overhead. also, out of nowhere - over a line of trees, a helicopter is doing intense maneuvers, climbing and diving all wild. it is loud. however, I'm quite lost in all this nature so I am insulated from these noisy bogart-attempts on my attention. I circle every flower bed, snapping shots when inspired - how I am inspired walking amongst all the gorgeousness! I must surely be developing bee-like attributes, it seems so natural to hover around these petaled wonders. I love it. that resonating energy thing from tiimes past I was thinking about yesterday is now an in-the-moment world of sensations I'm actually breathing and swimming about in and not just ideas in my head. I feel them shake me like I were reeds rustled by a breeze. there are quakes of some hard shakes but mostly it's a gentle hum, jiggling me real soft-like down to the nano-level. I feel as if I'm radiating as much as I'm absorbing - or better yet, reflecting. up through my feet (like they're roots), up my body (like it was a stem) and out of my face (like it was a bloom). I see a rectangular marble pillar, maybe half my height w/a sundial mounted on top. on the marble is carved "count only the sunny days" - that's a trip! a couple of more blocks, I's at lake harriet and walk along it's shore, they've built a righteous path around it. water, even though it's of a different kind, it still reminds me of back home in pedro w/the harbor, open sea and all. lots of red-breast robins bobbing about, I see a little launch area w/canoes and kayaks stacked up. this gets my head thinking about my intentions to get in a kayak, put it in the water and start paddling when I get back. can't wait. can't resist to take some shots of me w/the lake water in the background so I do that, then start hoofing south to forge for chow. I find nada so I go east a bit and then back up north. steve's on the main street, lyndale, but that's too noisy so I'm east of that even. righteous how so many folks plant flowers at their pads, I'm inspired so to do the same when tour's done. I find this chow pad that serve comidas cubano called victor. I get something called bistec corillo and dig it much. in a way, it's quite like that cubano pad I chowed at in providence - lots of decor from the period when castro first took over. the booth I first sit in has a picture of soldiers w/guns but that prompts me move across to another w/a picture of kids laughing at a schoolyard. I then continue my hoofing 'till I have to walk mainly on grass to pad my steps cuz the feet and legs are getting sore. I got a little out of touch w/them, having my head so busy w/these other connections. I do lose myself so at times. what a great way to get lost though - this is a morning I think I'll treasure most on this tour. I felt alive, starting on the inside even though I got lit from the outside. flaming telepaths, indeed!
when I get back, I'm set to chimp diary but tasha calls up. she wants to chow me - she's a chef. I bring jer - paul has to do laundry and stays behind. she's room mates w/nate from the first avenue and I see him as he's leaving when we arrive. tasha has mad us some quite righteous chow - this is the freshest and healthiest shoveling I've done all tour. there's a que grilling catfish, asparagus, a salad made w/arugula (great peppery-tasting kind of greens), potato salad w/green beans instead of mayonnaise (excellent decision), hard-boiled eggs, strawberries, nuts, and this trippy sauce she's made up that is oh so yummy. me and jer shovel much. thank you tons, tasha. I get so absorbed, I forget to ask her about the bass she wants to take up - aahh, I remember just as we're going to go. we do have a good talk about the world and its current state... all the good chow in me leaves me optimistic somehow instead of letting a corrosive cynicism take root - that's what it feels like anyway. good vibes from the inside, something heathy to contribute! even w/steve - the hardcore realist - we agree that we gotta keep hope alive or smother right under. big hugs for tasha and we gotta get back to the mcclellan pad - I got a radio interview at the university.
steve takes me over to radio k (koum). trippy about the twin cities straddling the mississippi river cuz that's what's used to separate 'k' stations (everything west) from the 'w' ones (everything east). hence, there's radio stations here that are both 'k' and 'w' to listen to. the dj is a nice cat named joe frost and he asks me great things about john coltrane and why I do what I do. I appreciate that much. I also learn about some new bands by the records he's playing. I should know more about the newer bands, I shouldn't be so ignorant. it's not like I'm above finding out about what's interesting. I just have so much on the table right now trying to get my stuff together. after this next record, I'm going to try and record an album every year. I want to have some works going! I love playing for folks but for me, that takes so much focus that I even miss out on the bands I'm playing along side! that's terrible but I'm in a stage of life where I gotta concentrate what I've got available. this isn't an excuse, it's a weakness. I want to get stronger. one of my heroes in terms of knowing happening contmporary stuff is thurston. I want to grow up to be like him. I will always be watt - that is important but I want to know about stuff that might blow my mind cuz that's what it was like for me when I was younger. whenever I go to radio stations and see all these records on the shelves and posters on the walls, I get these thoughts, almost always. it's very nice for joe to have me aboard, much respect to him.
steve takes me over to the turf club in saint paul - this is where we're playing tonight. it's a trippy pad, from way back in the 20s or sometime around then. during the day, there's old-timer type regulars but at night, it goes to a happening music scene. the stage is kind of like coming out of a cake but not as bad as columbus (sorry, dan). the soundman is a great cat named matt and he's so about being the fourth guy in our trio. I love that and it's always part of the spiel I give every soundman when I first meet her/him (soundman, her/him???) - they're the transmission where we're only the motor - all of us make the drivetrain. not enough importance goes to cat on the knobs, so stupid to take them for granted and not have much respect for what they do. one more gig w/the peavey power amp cuz dave's gonna bring my fixed eden one tonight. I forgot to mention I really should be humble about making peavey jokes cuz this is the second time this tour they've saved my ass. we do a soundcheck and then I'm off to the boat (we got to park right in the back where you load in) cuz I've been worn out by the day's activies, big time. I really konk hard. damn, no diary chimped today - fuck. however, the chances of me getting sick and/or playing shitty tonight are just too great if I don't konk. this is the hard reality. I will work twice as hard tomorrow to catch up. I see bill, the cat who travelled w/us three days last tour to document us. jer sees him too and says, "the accommodator" - immediately there's some embarrassed faces. oops.
'pert-near fours of konk and I'm woke up by a hand shaking me - it's grant hart! wow. so good to see grant, I was missing him last night. he most always comes to my gigs and it's always a positive effect on me, it energizes me. in a way, I get sensations like I was a young minuteman and him a young husker, is that weird? it just comes to me and they're not totally conscious feelings but just abstract vibes running through me. it gets me excited. I want to do good for grant. the place is packed and I want to do good for these folks too. I want to do good for jer and paul. steve came w/cindy so for them too. there's a good spirit watt's feeding off in saint paul tonight! the konk helped me much. it's a shame I again missed the same two bands who opened for us last night (terry eason + the barnacles plus superhopper) but we're going to have terry play guitar on the b.o.c. song at the end of the set. I have both old and new twin cities spirit voltage running through me tonight. we do pretty good, every gig seems to get better. paul's getting more of a handle and the improved amp thing surely helps me w/being a little more together. the folks are very responsive and have an energy of their own they're very generous in sharing. we do "the red and the black" w/terry (he does good but said we surprised him w/how fast we play it) and then we're off the stage. I ask jer about he clam he blew in "only you will know" but what the fuck is that about? things happen. it's not like he wasn't paying attention cu jer's getting really good at that now. paul's trying too, some encore tunes (like most gigs we've done w/paul, "little doll" and "little johnny jewel") and then we're done.
much slingging after the gig - the most of the tour, whoa. an irish cat who's a defense lawyer and was across the street, wondering why there was a line outside the club and checked things out, comes up and talks to me about when I was born ('57 for me and '59 for him) and when he finds out, says, "the 50s were good." funny, I've never hear that line used in that context (for a good time when to be born). there's another cat who has a web site dealing w/politics really wants me to call him. ok, when tour's done. there's folks from last night, that's very kind. lots of niceness, thank you saint paul. to think this is only my second gig ever in this town after so many tours, silly watt. thanks to steve for putting me in here. dave from eden has my amp and boy, am I glad to see him - not just cuz the amp is fixed but cuz I think he's very happening people, very much so. thank you much, dave. love the eden way helps me deliver bass to folks. a bass cat from one of the openers tonight talks to me about how much he loves his eden amp and the 2x15 cab it drives. good, good bass gear. it brings out what other stuff muddies. I give big thanks and hugs to tasha for the oh so wonderful foods she made up for me to chow. she tells me a lady called up to see if she'd be a chef in costa rica this next tourist season - wow! that is great news. I'm very happy for her.
we load up and follow steve to his pad - he's got to get a lamp for his starboard tail light and some red tape or a new lens for the port one - please, steve! god, you make me worry. we get back and I already have my sack laid out in the patio. I stop to think about these two last gigs. funny, both this show and last night, I had my watch unlatch and almost come off while we were playing. the way it works, there's actually two bands - a velcro one under the nylon clasp one so it doesn't rotate around your wrist (I got it in the shinjuku part of tokyo - "good for snowboarder," said the salesman) so it didn't fall off and hit the deck either time but I'm wondering what's up cuz tht has never happened before. maybe it's a sign that in lieu of these energies I've been absorbing/comtemplating, there is no real sense of time or rather, not my idea of what time means and I somehow have to let go of how I've structured things in my head. it makes me pause to think and look up at the sky. I scan the eastern part, the holes in my eyes filling fast w/night and wondering. so much I don't know, just so much...
paul, steve and I somehow get talking about this world full of hurt, particularly what we hear about the mideast part. steve has an interesting theory about religion and spirituality - they have nothing to do w/each other! I go to the patio and I see a gift from him and cindy. it's a framed ad from the 40s for budweiser that says, "the minueman is still the man of the hour!" d. boon would've laughed big time, I do too. much love to you, steve and cindy. mask down, watt... out!
thursday, may 22 - iowa city, ia
pop and as usual I'm ready to burst cuz of having to piss. the cat around here, topo was konked on my bag. he was that way when I came back from tasha's too. out of town smells - their way of reading the newspaper, huh? steve's son corey is using the head so no hose off so I go out to hoof - that gets pre-empted w/some rain, not heavy but rain still. this is a worry cuz of the stairs involved for load-in. these stairs are insanely fucked-up: old steel ones at a big angle outside, right to the back of the stage. it's like a gangplank to a boat! when they're wet, they're slippery as the biggest nightmare you can imagine. I get some last shots of minnesota flowers and the roust steve cuz he wanted to eat one final chow w/us. I say bye to lulu - she likes my barbie purse - and cindy - see you next time. little veronica is going w/steve and we follow him to a chow pad run by an irish family since '48. I chow a pork chop and some eggs. this is one of the few times I chow w/my whole band this tour. I love my guys but need some space, just a little. steve makes every chow a good one though - it is impossible for watt to have a bad time around mister steve mcclellan, I am very happy to report! can't wait to see him next tour.
I wheel us south on I-35 through minnesota towards at iowa. right smack at the border is a horrible accident on the other side of the freeway - a minivan has rolled over into the median and emergency vehicles are everywhere. I pray no one's hurt. the highway is such a fucking scary place, I wish we'd all be more humble about it. the first big iowa town we hit is mason city and I switch w/jer there. he takes us on a southwest track on us-18 to us-218 into cedar falls. from there's it's I-380, right into iowa city - home of the univeristy of iowa and where we're playing tonight, gabe's oasis. the view along the way is many, many corn fields though it's hard to tell cuz the plantings just been done and there's just the little green of the seedlings. I bring the boat around the back for the load-in. before we got to iowa's border, the sky broke up and the rain stopped - thank god. there's some big white puffy clouds but it looks like we'll have dry stairs to get our shit up into the pad. the part that's still scary is that these stairs have rusted out big time, I mean big time - there's boards placed to help prop us some very corroded shit, damn. we get everything up ok and save the 250 pound organ for last. the bartender cat (a bar is on the ground floor and the club is above it) helps us out and the organ gets hefted up, damn if the steps aren't bowing-out big time but hold they do, whew! w/that done, we lock the pad up and wait for soundcheck. I go looking for cords. last night I screwed my power amp back into it's case but I need a patch cable cuz I donated one after I started using kira's preamp (I had to go mono and if you got nothing for cables to get plugged into, they get spaced!). I find one that's not really right but will do at one store but find a better one at another. I also get a better cable for the little bass to go into the amp, one w/a right angle plug - this puts less stress on the bass' output jack. this is much relief for both of us. on the way back to the venue, I get a gyro. I like these things, wish they had them back home in pedro. I'm walking back to the pad when I pass this big bush-like tree. it's got little light blue flowers in bunches but what really grabs me is their fragrance - whoa, is it strong and great smelling. I swing back around for another whiff and damn if it don't grab me much - I stick my whole face in the shit and smell it all up. I'm lost in the sensations running through me and can't pull myself away. this is an outdoor mall area and there's lots of folks sitting around. they must think I'm insane but I don't care cuz I'm in love, at least I feel that way. it's trippy how some scents grab me so - god, it wails on me. I wonder what these are called? if I don't pull myself away now, I'll never leave so I make an extreme effort and yank my face out of the blossoms and force myself down the road. that was intense!
back at gabe's, the upstairs is still locked so I go downstairs and meet some young people who are coming to the show tonight. one's named davy and he runs a tattoo parlor. he trips me out by knowing all the words to the opera ("...engine room"), whoa. he sure is a nice cat and so are his friends melinda and kevin. we talk a bunch 'till soundman john shows up and lets us in to the club. great to see john again - he saved my ass once when the little bass got left by accident after the last time I played here w/the pair of pliers (tom and vince) - he grabbed it and brought it to chicago where he had a gig two days after. we just happened to be in chicago too and though I didn't get to play it at the gig, I got it the next morning from him. much, much respect to him for that. first time w/the repaired amp for soundcheck and yes, that's my sound again - so many weeks w/out - damn, did I miss her much! right when we get done, who comes up to the stage? dan davis from run westy run - whoa, what a surprise. he's from here originally and back after some nightmare times in san francisco. last time I saw him here, it was the same situation or maybe it was the same nightmare but in minneapolis instead. anyway, I'm glad he's looking good and is healthy. love seeing cats from the old days that are still vital. he's in a couple of bands too. I meet the guys in the opening band, gential hercules and they're all friendly young men. I hear they do a prog-rock zappa kind of thing - that's a trip! I go down to the boat and chimp diary, I got some catching up to do...
I get the rest of milwaukee and then minneapolis done when jer comes to get me. no konk but I think I'll be ok. it's just fucked up for me to get too far behind and jer did do half the driving so I could rest then. these days it's so hard for me to play good w/out konk and especially now w/the tour in it's last week - the next time thursday comes up, I should be in pedro. unfortunately, I missed the openers - that's weak but if you've been reading this tour spiel I've been chimping, it's not totally out of the blue, huh? I grab the little bass and sacks and head up the stairs. folks that were milling about come right up front on the stage. we start our gig. I'm having a little trouble, I admit - I can feel the effects of no konk. jer's a little off too but we get better as the gig goes on. paul's even more confident and together - more in the moment too. there's some clams from his way but not bad and I'm very proud of him. I start to get my nerve up and get it more together but I start to wonder if folks right in front are getting really blasted by the bass. I got so much tone now and you can hear every note - no mud to hide and lame things out. I turn down some cuz I'm a little worried - I'm not out to hurt anyone, especially cats who are way into what you're doing by being right there and supportive. this is a really receptive crowd. there's some yammering in "chinese firedrill" and I try to tease a little bit by saying something about what maybe they're saying like, "guess where I got this new thing I'm wearing - old navy!" I know that sounds ridiculous but I've actually heard people talking like this at a gig where they're right up front on you, it's kind of a trip. I didn't hear that here tonight - in fact, I couldn't really tell what they were saying, it was more like a chatter where you can't understand the words. I was just having a little fun, maybe cuz I feeling a little insecure about not playing so good in the beginning of the set. I apologize for both the lame funny attempt and the kind of weak playing - I also tell everyone I think it's ok people talk cuz maybe it's good practice for them to speak up to others who might be trying to take an endrun w/their rights and their future, stuff like that. they have us back for more. a young man asks me to do "liberty calls" from the opera but I explain that was just one part of a whole piece and it wouldn't feel right to do it by itself - sometime in the future I'll tour the whole thing again. I hope that didn't sound lame cuz I am much respectful for the sincere feelings he's sharing w/me - he even shows me a tattoo of that tune's title on his arm. again, much respect to this brother. I explain about the stooges gig from about a month ago and someone yells out that ron and scott were born in davenport, iowa. wow, I didn't know that - good to hear. then we do "sister ray" and I break an 'a' string cuz I'm going off - I got a little of that vibe from the last two days still ringing through me. we finish and I sling and spiel. lots of nice folks - much respect to all these iowa cats cuz some came from des moines and dubuque too. there's a cat who helped me get the wipers box set, thank you much! here's tim thelen, the creator of the thelecaster bass - a great piece of work. we go to the boat so I can move it to the back - we gotta load it up quick cuz rain's coming down, damn! I give him the poster for the des moines hairy mary's show from like ten or something years ago that I've carried in the boat as a good luck totem ever since. damn, did I have a tooth hurting that night - had it yanked out the next morning. it was going bad for years cuz of stupid watt choices I've long since wised up about. I settle w/the boss doug, great to see him again - always is. a lot of years, huh?
those young people up front, the ones I thought I was hurting w/the bass and all - one of them is named rachel and she invites us to konk at her pad. her brother is adam and comes over to talk too. I'm amazed how they know the opera like davey. I explain to them the significance of the color wheel under where the cd goes in its case - how each tune is a different part of the same day, going from early morning to twentyfour hours later. they're really cool folks. their uncle got them cali mota and I have a little of that. I ask if they were getting pounded by the bass cuz they were right up front - well, julia, adam's girl was taking the main blast, like the speakers being right there but they all said it was ok and they wanted it that way. I just wonder what it's like cuz I got it going into my knees and the shit is shaking me up. I can imagine w/the height of the stage and it face-level, oh boy. these are such nice folks. I talk as much as I can but I'm really, really worn and so the mask comes on. we talk a little more about how everyone's from somewhere and it's ok we're not all in the same big town. this cat, caz comes by - he was wandering for a while and finally found the pad and I'm hoping so he doesn't think I'm konking out cuz he just came - I just can't hold on anymore. the mask comes down. I still here folks talking for a bit - paul finds room in a closet to konk and jer's right next to me. folks get the hint and it's good night. thanks much though for such hospitality. tomorrow, we start our last week of the tour. I'm out.
friday, may 23 - omaha, ne
pop and hit the head but for some reason, I miss my third hose down for the tour. I can't explain why except for a restlessness that wanted me out of the pad and into the street NOW! weird. I meant to just go out and get a razor so I could shave but instead, I found myself hoofing right down the alley and back to the part of town whence we came out of last night - we didn't go so far away. that's a happening thing if there's a safe pad for a boat. there's nothing harder to do than drive and drive after you play your brains out. I know a lot of bands like rolling down the road when their gig's done but I think every mile you do late at night ups the odds of something bad happening - it's a much scarier situation than daytime (deer, wind, methamphetamine truck drivers, "bob weaver"-type drivers halfway konked, etc) and as soon as the show's adrenaline wears off, your driver also becomes more and more part of the risk equation. "safe, close and sane" - those are the grail words that attract us for konk pads. of course, real life calls for improvisation so I've learned to make best of what hand's being dealt to me. much respect to all those kind and generous folks who offered up hospitality w/such unselfishness. it's like eight and there's hardly anything open - well, there's some bars that are but that's not my scene much anymore so I wander about 'till I do find a bagel place. I get some coff and a bagel. back outside, I hoof about and sort out some thoughts - it's the last weekend of the tour coming up. it always amazes me how I get this far in a tour, even after so many of them. I give thanks for us all being safe and kept together through all the insanity of what terrible might happen. even w/all the caution, I feel I just have to be humble about the whole big picture. how much can one possibly hope to control and how much is getting played out w/life's big dice roll?
I get back and chimp diary in the boat - I'll get caught up today for sure. the way I like things is for me to write about what happened the day before. when I even have to go back a day earlier, it makes it tough for the writing to flow cuz I stop and really scratch the noggin' for details. tour is like that, bringing a fullness that puts you into a whole day of a world for a certain gig/town. you get wet w/it, drenched - it's like trying to gauge the size of the body of water you might be in after getting pulled under and immersed in it. you're flooded. then here comes the next day and 'pert-near like the lethe in dante's "purgatorio," you're washed clean of it. well, you can dig like you did at the beach as a kid at the water's edge but the hole you've just scooped out fills w/the next rush of a wave. another way to put it is like watching sand dunes. no matter vanishes yet the lay of them is constantly in flux. to think back by looking at them in the now sure is a strain on the brain, the observer (in the moment) interferes w/his/her observation (inventory of sensations brought on by tour). it's a good workout for my mind though and a discipline I find no problem w/living up to in terms of wanting to. notice I said "sensations" instead of "incidents" - maybe "impressions" might even be better. thinking back again to joyce's "ulysses" - it's event/action as more of a springboard for thoughts done thought and brought up from someplace inside me.
I see jer and he comes to the boat and says he'll get paul out of that closet when we're ready to go. I keep chimping. a little later, jer says we're ready to go - he's gonna get paul. jer's funny lots of times, even when he's not trying. I love him dearly, he's such a good compadre for me to have to tour w/and the same goes for pete. I wish I could find the words to really convey what I feel for these men. looking back on folks I've been lucky enough to have aboard, I consider myself very, very fortunate. paul here is great too, though a little out of step w/us but not for lack of trying, just not as much recent experience. he's had plenty of this in the old days though, when he played w/dezo in dc-3 on their tours and opening for black flag. he supported b.f. w/his own band twisted roots too. anyway, I see paul emerge from rachel's apartment w/his sleeping bag in his hand and do a huge endo, right of the stairs. it's only a few steps but it scares me and jer much and we cry out. jer's outside the boat and runs to help him up - thankfully, he's ok. I guess he only got a few minutes of warning before jer had him come out to the boat so we could bail... I ask paul what can we do to help him out and he says it'd be great if he could get at least fifteen minutes to wake up before we're on the move. no problem. like I was saying, me and jer kind of have this system we got pretty oiled and it can be a little intense for someone just coming on board (a little?!?!).
jer's at the helm and I navigate him through town and west on the I-80 clear across the whole breadth of iowa. we got some gray skies but no rain. paul gets some funky food at a gas stop, like some greasy gravy on whatever and fake-mexican taco-merde. me and jer are a little more careful about taking this kind of shit on board but paul's still feeling his way through these things. I get some nuts - I'll hold off for something in omaha. we cross the missouri river and into town about three, we're playing sokol hall which was the pad I last played in town after many years at the ranch bowl. I like the folks running this new place and want to be a part of helping to build this other scene up. I have hardly any outfits left but luckily, there's an laundromat across the street - great, my last wash of the tour. while I have things in the dryer, I see this bbq pad and think why not check some of that out, I'm always into checking a little q to see if it's happening. I find out it's very much not. I got some brisket but whew, only a few bites and it's heading for the basura. well, I tried. I get my wash and head back to venue. what great weather here in omaha, sunny and dry. bossman mark lets us in, he tells me catpower just played and chan marshall said to say hi to me - thank you and hi back. soundman steve sets up the p.a. the stage here is really wide (and hollow, which will be a problem later on) so I try to move the p.a. columns in but the bottoms resonating on the hollow stage bring on some tough problems and we gotta move the stacks back. everyone here is really nice - kevin from one of the openers has already invited us to konk at his pad after the gig. steve's a good man and is trying hard - it's just a tough situation cuz of this big hollow stage. we'll make do w/what has to go down. I go to the boat after we do a song.
I chimp diary and get all caught up. great. I konk and have this weird nightmare, a bad one. it's like I'm in the woods and there's this convoy of cars and trucks. it's like the essentials of a government on the move cuz it's capitol buildings are being overrun. I'm trying to keep out of sight, moving from tree to shrub to behind rocks and whatever. I'm terrified I'll be discovered cuz these people look very desperate. it's these sensations that keep playing in my mind: my fear of being found and their desperate condition - both of us in near panic but trying to keep it together. I get near what seems like the core of the caravan and realize who these people are, it's the nazis and I can see hitler. how bizarre. that's when paul pops the hatch and tells me we got fifteen minutes. I missed both openers who are local, kevin's bombardment society and the monroes. it's a much bigger crowd than last time I played here and before we start, this lady says hi to me. it's francis bu, a lady from pedro who was friends w/both d. and joe boon. I remember her sending me an email about being here now. great she could come and see how I play now. we start the set and the first tune is one giant feedback - huge problems w/the sound. I stop us so steve can get things together and I tell the crowd the virtue of the human spirit to overcome difficulty, it's something I think that's a very noble and part of life. everything is not going to be always perfect, what crazy expectations we set up for ourselves! it's a very hard gig for both jer and paul cuz they have zero monitors - jer can't hear the singing or his kick drum and paul has no trace of the organ. the big hollow stage is behaving like a huge resonator, like the head of a giant kick drum and my bass' lower tones are being exaggerated to ridiculous levels, bogarting everything. I do admire the perseverance of my guys though their focus is understandably a little off. I stop after the third tune to ask them to hunker down cuz of the situation and try to let us come together and make the best of it. gigs are funny, you never know what kind of hand you're gonna get dealt 'till it's underway. we had some hints at soundcheck but would've never imagined it'd be this tough - a good character builder for sure! the nebraska folks are quite generous w/their open hearts/minds and when we're done, I'm kind of amazed at such a good response - it tells me steve did a great job mixing the sound for them. I think this is most important cuz the audience are the ones who've ponied up the monies and us here on the stage are getting in for free. if anyone has to get the shitty sound, it should be us before them - that's what I think. they bring us back for an encore and in the end part of "little doll," I kind of make fun of lincoln cuz I've played there the last two times in nebraska and didn't come to this town. lincoln is a great town to play too so this is kind of weird of me. it just seemed to come out and now that I think about it, I just don't know what got into me except for feeling a little bad cuz of passing omaha here by like I did. I'm convinced that all towns everywhere have good folks and interesting parts about them and it's crazy to try to think otherwise. d. boon's pop was from nebraska so I feel a connection that way. I didn't mean to put one of her towns against the other - stupid watt.
I sling and this guy tells me about coming to a gig of mine where his cat was sick and dying. he got home w/a shirt he got from me and saw there was a cat on it (I 'pert-near always have a representation of this cat I had for seventeen years I called "man") and he felt there was a reason for it. it made me think of my lost cat, a true and dear friend. another man w/a kiss shirt on gives me his baseball hat that has a "farmland" patch on it. I tell him about seeing kiss before they had an album out and he finds it hard to believe. true though, I saw a few times and remember hearing their first album and thinking it was recorded too slow (the tempos) and careful compared to how I knew them from their gigs. I always saw them opening for other bands - the weirdest combinations. lots of good words from lots of the folks, thank you all very much.
we load up and follow kevin to his pad in south omaha. as soon as we arrive, bossman mark takes jer across the river to the casinos. after a little mota, I tell him and his drummer about skateboarding when I was a boy - there was either red clay wheels or steel ones - no urathane yet. this meant no ability to ride in the street and even the cracks in the sidewalk were capable of bringing you down hard. cats would even sit down on them and ride down hills to get the center of gravity low - things changed so much when the newer wheels came out. by that time, my knees were totally shot and any kind of skateboarding was totally out of the realm of possibility for me. I do try to work my bass like I was riding one though - it is a big inspiration for me. this spiel (and the inevitable tangents included) has spent any fuel I might have left in my tank and it is time for watt to bring down the mask. still haven't found the one jimbo gave me (it's somewhere in the boat) so I'm lucky to have tasha's. mask down, I begin my fadeout. jer returns - he netted a loss of tweny dollars - "not bad," he tells us. I'm happy for jer and after we have some fun w/phrases we've been having all tour, I'm asunder.
saturday, may 24 - lawrence, ks
pop and head upstairs for the head and hose off. whew - it's not happening for me to miss a day doing this (yesterday in iowa city) so I scrub twice as hard to get the twice as much filth off of me. sometimes I feel compelled to take a wire brush to myself. I go downstairs into the kitchen and rustle up some coff. I go back into the living room, where I konked and gather up my sleep sack to bring it out to the boat. whoa, rain this morning and I have to move quick to keep me and the sack from getting too soaked. I get back inside and write up a note for steve, the soundman from last night. kevin told me after the gig steve was feeling hurt from words - he missed my intentions (most likely from my clumsy use of language) and thought I was being disrespectful. this was definitely not the case and I both apologize and explain what I had intended from my stage spiel. sorry, steve. I leave him a shirt too as part of my contrition towards him. I can imagine him having to put up w/enough bullshit 'tude from assholes and want to make it up to him. I have to think more about what my weight my words might carry once they leave my head and enter the ears of others. it makes me mad at myself when I'm so careless. no one's awake for us to say bye and thanks to so I'll say it here.
it's gray skies and rain that I take the boat through on I-80, east across the missouri river, back into iowa and then south on I-29. at a 'way, I get a tuna sandwich - some lady w/a sourass face (working w/other folks w/sourass faces - happy saturday to you too). it tastes kind of funky - something that usually doesn't happen w/I get some chow at subway but I chow only a bit of it cuz the ptomaine sensors are flashing somewhere within. maybe some of the sourass got somehow transferred? in contrast to the sky, much lush green farms line the road. the rain's making them even greener and it's pretty. we cross into missouri and jesse james country, I switch w/jer at saint joseph, just when the skies clear up and sun starts coming though. he takes us near kansas city where we cross back over the missouri river on I-70 into kansas. trippy how the kansas city, kansas is so much smaller than the kansas city, missouri. it's not much more 'till where in the home of the university of kansas, lawrence. of course, it's much more than that - there's lots of history here. before the civil war got going, there was fighting between people in missouri and kansas (bushwackers and jayhawks) - kansas is the part of the country where john brown came from and jesse james was part of a gang that sacked lawrence. sad, sad stuff. hope we're never that angry at each other like that again. as for my history, I've played lawrence many, many times and for the last number of years it's been at the bottleneck, where we are tonight. school has let out last week and that can be tough for a college town gig - that's why I like to start in the middle of march so I can be done by now. I have to say though that starting a tour on d. boon's birthday was righteous, what better day for watt to sally forth?
whoa, who's bogarting the whole space in front of the club w/their motor home and trailer? it's one of the bands that are opening tonight, jucifer. they're from athens, ga and are waiting for someone to move in front of them so they can move up and let us park behind them. they have there own cones! they've got much more than that though. when wendell comes to unlock the door, the three folks that make up jucifer (ed, amber and john) start loading in tons of gear. I'm talking like sixteen cabinets and maybe six heads - all for one guitar (amber). ed's drums are huge vistalite marching band bass drums - one for a floor tom and one for kick. it's a massive setup. john's helps them out - it's just a duet. I've never seen such a massive getup like this. can't wait to hear their sounds! they sure are nice people, they tell me their old room mate was sir demon brown of the corndogs.org site so we in fact have a common friend. they tell me they've been on tour for two years! whoa, I feel tinier in a couple of ways. we load in and then I go up the street where I know there's a juice bar (what gave me that idea?). I get a peach and mango one w/wheat grass and the "brain blend" mix (their suggestion). I go back to the club and upload the first few days of week eight of the tour diary - plus the last day of week seven, whoops - spaced on that. no internet access for the last few days and I find myself w/like two hundred pieces of spam - motherfuckers... that reminds me, we did pass the spam museum in minnesota on our way to iowa city (the billboard sign said "you know you're curious") but that's the chow kind. this other shit is a fucking bumrush and it's needs to get shoved back up the asses of the jerks who spew it. enough thought wasted on that. a huge downpour opens up from the skies and 'pert-near floats the boat w/a torrent but then disappears as fast as it came. quick change-up weather out here!
amanda comes by w/some chips and a salsa she says has got to be the hotest she's gotten for me yet. it does pack some heat and it's got good flavor (getting more and more important w/watt - stuff that's got heat but tastes chemical is a strikeout in my book). it prompts me to hanker for some mexican chow. heck, I saw an "inglesia" in omaha - there's authentic latino communities all across the u.s. more and more now - I can dig it. after a soundcheck w/a nice young man named john (kind of made difficult w/feedback problems - a portent maybe of what's to come?), I go next door to chow a chilli verde burrito that's good. (wet style though so I had to use a fork, aaaaaarrrrrgggggghhhhh!!!). I watch the jucifer soundcheck - damn! the setup is the entire bottleneck stage as one wall of amps and cabinets. ed sets his drums in front of this. no song however. I tell them that I think maybe we should just set up in front of them cuz it'll take forever to get everything down and then, where would you put it? it'd bogart all kinds of club space. this is one opening act I am not going to miss so I get to the boat so I can get enough konk to see them at eleven.
I miss the two local bands that are opening, michael and conner but I pop right in time for jucifer, that's a trip. amber starts things w/an incredible low end flow from her guitar. it's much more bottom than I could ever get from my stuff, it's inner-organ shaking big time, whoa! ed comes out, ties on a headband samarai-style and starts wailing on the drums and I do mean wailing - lots of bill ward-isms but w/a style of his own. he's great! together, they have a massive, massive sound - this is no white stripes! amber's the singer too and she has a whole landscape of deliveries, from whispers to hollers. it's quite an intense show. at one point, ed gets going so wild that he flips backwards out of his chair (he uses a steel foldup one) and on to the deck. I am not sure this was on purpose either - he just flew back and over! they go like thirtyfive minutes w/out a break and then it's over. during their set, who comes up to me to say hi but helios creed! wow, I haven't seen him in ages. he lives here now and is going to start a new band, great. he was one of the cats in chrome, a s.f. band from years back that was very happening. boy is it late though, time for us to get on.
we start our set and there's big time problems w/the monitors - they're nothing but intense squeal and feedback. it's really bad and is killing all three of our ears - the crowd too cuz it's also coming over the mains. oh dear, sometimes these things happen. the bottleneck has a great sound system, there's just something set all wrong. soundman john's trying as hard as he can. I ask the crowd what they need to hear a good show and after about three tunes, he gets it dialed in. the only solution for us on stage though is the monitors getting shut off so it's like a mime show for us. oh well, the folks are the ones paying the money - we get in for free - so I think if anyone's gonna get good sound, it should be them. sort of like last night, ain't that a trip? sometimes that's what a tour can deal you. learning my lesson from last night, I watch what I say. I do holler some fucks when the squeals hurt me - it's more like they come out just from a reaction to getting what seems like an ice pick in the ear but I make sure I stay calm and just try to do the best I can w/my guys in the situation. jer breaks a snare drum head but he's got a spare snare drum. I feel a little insecure while he's getting that together but he reminds me it's sort of like when I break a string. you're absolutely right, jer. I calm my shit down. I don't play one of my best gigs, there's no excuse - well, I could say it's the end of the tour and my voice is a little strained (though it's holding up better for the end of a tour than most of the ones in the past) and then there's the monitor problems - blah, blah, blah... but I should admit that I just was a little lame. only one real giant clam though - I got lost in one of the madonna tunes ("bedtime story") but overall, I feel I kind of let folks a little down. I couldn't really even look at the folks while I was playing, I was kind of embarrassed of myself. these people are very, very kind to us though and I'm so surprised when we finish and they share so much applause and good will w/us, wanting more. I don't do the best "little doll" I've ever done but I really try hard w/a "sister ray" go off. for both tunes, I tried to think about jucifer and their thing and let that inspire me. I got a little self-conscious w/the stooges cover but had some success in letting go for the velvets one. I played on my knees, behind my head, w/my teeth - that kind of thing. funny I have the "bass = love" shirt kirsha gave me on. I do a truly believe in that. much respect to the folks here for having such open hearts. I sling and talk w/them and they all have such kind feelings to share w/me. one cat gives a spiel out loud to everyone about "watt and skateboarding - always and forever!" that is quite impressive. he belts it out almost like a professional wrestler but he's quite sincere in his conviction. it very much moves me. his buddy wants a bass string from me for the skate shop he owns. how much I try to work the bass like a skateboard - john coltrane on a skateboard - that's an image I can embrace! another man gives me a bracelet he made from a bicycle spoke - quite elegant. I have him put it on me, where that bracelet jonathan gave me on the first gig of this tour in sacramento went. so sad it got broke when it caught on to the door of jimbo's pad after the hoboken gig. I hope this one brings me the same luck his did. there's a cat my age who says he picked up the bass cuz of me - much respect to him - what is age anyway? just road signs to tell you what town you just drove through maybe, huh? lots of good will here and I'm feeling a little bit better about the gig though I want to do so much better for all these folks next time.
we pack up - jucifer has an incredible job to do w/all their stuff, I very much admire their work ethic besides their artistic expression. our stuff is so piddly in comparison. kevin, a cat I've stayed w/many times before here in town has invited us over again and we load him and his girl sarah in the boat w/us. we get to his pad and sarah puts out this mattress that inflates w/a little fan built into it. trippy. we talk a little over some mota - there's a friend of kevin's named john who's been a drummer for a long time but I can't find the energy to really rap much and have to lay down soon. it's late and I'm feeling pretty sore too. there's a righteous older cat here that's very kind to me and likes my rubs and pets. I sure miss having a cat, the soft furry bone pouches. this one here is very open w/affection and purrs it up big time, rolling back and really getting into it. this makes me purr and I konk easy.
sunday, may 25 - oklahoma city, ok
pop and hose off. that kitty's on the porch and looking like some attention should be donated so I comply w/handfuls of kneading rubs. sometimes watt can supply a good time w/the hands. I can feel the purrs go right through my fingers and into my bones, gentle vibrations resonating my skeleton so. I relax as muc as I can to magnify the effect. what a tiny but power engine! this kitty likes where the sun makes it's home on the deck verses where it's screened out and so I make like the same and scrunch my body where it can some warm light baths also, my arm the plumbing to connect both our hot tube body bone sacks. kitty's getting ecstatic and drooling, maybe time to wind this down. I look for coff but can't find either that or a machine so I decide to take the boat down the road. I find a health food store and get some coff there. I also see a small tub of green olives stuffed w/garlic cloves and get that. a weird combination of flavors in my mouth this morning! it's sunday mornig so I call my ma like I usually do this day of the week. she's doing good, her voice sounding strong - I'm so glad she's got her health back. she says my sisters are well too so that's all good news for me to hear. it's what I think of first when I think of them, are they healthy. our immediate family is so small, just me, my ma and my two sisters. my ma has been finding kayak information for me, so I got resources to work from when I get back from tour. this adventure in kayaking is really getting me kind of excited - I can't wait. I drive back to kevin's pad and chimp some while my guys wake up. kevin gets up too and cooks us up some scrambled eggs, fish (pollack - the kind they make imitation crab meat from), potatoes and toast. thank you, kevin. jer says his tailbone is feeling better. we've been asking paul to act out the words in "amnesty report" more and he got a little carried away in "they got their teeth knocked out" part and instead of fake slugging jer in the jaw like pete does, he booted jer in the ass w/his steel toe boots. when we got brought back for encores, I brought my mic over to jer so he have some say and he tells the folks, "I'd like to say this guy's a dick (pointing to paul) for booting me in the ass!" I don't think paul meant any arm but I guess he caught some of jer's tailbone. ouch. paul's still learning.
time to roll and thank yous to kevin and sarah. I take us southwest on the kansas turnpike, first through topeka and then into wichita where I switch w/jer. the wheat fields of kansas give way to the red rock of oklahoma as we head south on I-35. paul's learned the art of prepping up the 'dines and handfeeds both me and jer like we were seals. in the back of the boat here, I have the 'puter in my lap for chimping but my mind is stuck on why I got so confounded by the last two gig's technical problems w/the p.a. stuff and kind of lamed-out the gigs. it really makes me upset at myself for this stupid behavior. I do not dig it at all and am determined to do better tonight - no matter what happens w/the machines involved. I want to show some of the spirit of overcoming adversity I was talking about in the last chimping entry, not leave them just as words but to put them into action. what the fuck is my problem? you'd think w/this many tours and these kinds of things happening to me so many times that I would fucking get some sort of a clue to get it just a little fucking together. you'd think so... I even would think so! it's almost like a knee-jerk thing where I'm 'pert-near powerless to have a say in my own actions. by some weird coincidence, I got an email from a cat in albany, a fellow fan of both "the prisoner" tv show and the blue oyster cult band, jason. here's what he sent:
"henceforth alone and sorely mistrustful of
myself, I thus, and not qithout a sullen
wrathfulness, took sides against muself and
for everything painful and difficult
precisely for *me*: - this I again found my
way to that courageous pessimism that is the
antithesis of all romantic mendacity, and
also, as it seems to me today, the way to
'myself', to *my* task. that concealed and
imperious something for which we long have no
name until it finally proves to be our
*task*." and "life itself rewards us for our
tough will to live , for the long war such as
I then waged with myself against the pessimism
of weariness with life, even for every
attentive glance our gratitude accords to
even the smallest, tenderest, most fleeting
gift life gives us. finally our reward is the
*greatest* of life's gifts, perhaps the
greatest thing it is able to give of any find
-- we are given our *task* back."
"human all-too-human: a book for free spirits"
- friedrich nietzsche
I guess maybe jason sent this to give me some solace but I think I'm more apt to take this as a kick in ass to try and get it more fucking together. the task I think I'm setting for myself is to let art affirm humanity, not let frustration be a cue to throwing a hissy fit. even if I don't say some stupid shit (which I'm very glad I didn't), the same bunkness can manifest itself in lame performing which I take as not letting the heart show through, fouling it up w/self-absorbed clutter. I am determined to do better w/tonight's gig, no matter what gets dealt to me. what really made me mad at myself last night was letting insecurities run so over me that I yelled to jer get it going faster when he had to switch snare drums - what the fuck was that about? jer's doing great and paul's doing his best to. I've been very fortunate w/people in my life. I should not be so surprised if some feel driven away. apologies will not always repair the damage my suckass behavior can level. sometimes it feels like immaturity but other times it's feels more like a weird combination of pride and envy. maybe there are some who might think I'm dwelling on this a bit much but others who know me well probably realize also I need a lot of work w/this. I guess it would be worse to either ignore these feelings completely or give in totally to despair. nietzsche had a weird but noble way of wrestling w/things related somewhat w/this. many thanks for jason to bringing a laugh to me, using some heavy thoughts as sort of a sideshow room of crazy mirrors to let some air out of a puffed-up chest. "who is numer one? you are number six."
jer parks the boat in front of vzd around five. this is maybe the fourth time I'm going to play here and I dig it. the boss chad pulls up in a big truck he's rented, divorce is coming and it's time to pack up. he opens the pad up - a really neat former drugstore from the thirties, art deco-style and all - so we can load in but we decide not to soundcheck cuz the cat who usually does it moves slower than anyone ever and you're up in front of all these people eating chow. however, we fail to realize that it's sunday and this pad is never open on sundays w/an exception that bossman chad is making tonight cuz of the gig. tommy and mike are the soundcats anyway and they hustle big time. however, we don't do a soundcheck so the other two bands, local ones called stellar chromatic and the cinders, can do them if they want. chad puts out some lasagna and caesar salad for us, I have big heaps of the latter and a small bit of the former. then it's the boat for me cuz I got some congestion going on up in the sinuses. I don't know if it's a cold or allergies but it's making me a little weak. I chimp diary for a while and then konk.
maybe being that the boat is so close to the pad, I'm awaken by the first band and hear their set through the bulkhead of the boat. usually I konk right this but it's different tonight. they sound good. I hear the next band too and I like them too - they even do an old killing joke song. I hear both bands load out and they're saying very nice things about me. this is a trip cuz I'm not where they can see me so I know they're not saying things just to be nice. how very kind and generous of them. they're quite surprised when I pop out of the boat for the gig. one of them says it was his first time on the bass and he digs it. he says he's really a guitar player. I think of ron asheton telling me it felt like a demotion to be put on bass for "raw power" and maybe for him it was. for others though, maybe bass is the ticket. whatever it takes to express yourself, that's what I think. into the pad w/myself and the little bass and I meet bossman chad by the stage. he says he just saw gore vidal on tv talk about things current on the political tip and his theme was how he thinks the founding fathers were looking towards greece and these days it seems we're going for rome. chad's pretty up on political things, I always get a good talk from him about that kind of stuff. it's a good pep talk for me to do my gig, I am determined not to do a lame one tonight!
the ok city folks are quite enthusiastic and there's a very good vibe to work off of here. tommy's got the monitors sounding really good too. jer's not looking up too much, he's kind of distracted w/stuff falling apart but he plays like a champ. paul's good too - I think there's a big difference when the cat fronting the band (me) has got it together and not such a big mess, especially w/the emotional thing. I break an 'e' string in the minutemen tune and there's kind of a tussle between two cats to who's gonna get it. it doesn't get too out of hand though and everyone ends up laughing. this gig turns out ok for me, I do a much better job than the last two nights. we do "little doll" and during my ad-lib spiel at the end, I hear the boss chad holler, "greece versus rome!" that's funny. we finish and I talk while I sling w/the folks. one guy is from pedro and has seen a crazy man pealing around early in the morning w/an orange helmet. that crazy man is in fact me. one of the things that strikes me about people rapping w/people at the end here is their diversity - there's not really one kind of cat who goes to mike watt gigs. I like that. some are even military people. some look kind hardcore, some rasta, some hippie, some squarejohn - whatever. I think this is a good thing. it might make a marketing person nervous but fuck that - I'm grateful anyone's generous enough w/their time to check out what I'm doing. I'm connecting on some level I know d. boon would dig cuz that's where I learned it. I meet this young man who shows me his driver's license and his name is joseph michael watt. whoa! he's a twentythree year old bass player from this town and damn if he doesn't have a nose kind of like my pop. I got my ma's and she has her sicilian pop's. we talk for a while - he loves sonic youth. he has me write my name really big on the back of his shirt - see, he goes by the name mike watt too. I would not be surprised if this cat wasn't somehow related. safe seas to you, cousin.
I settle w/chad and it takes a little while cuz he likes talking about all kinds of stuff and that's alright w/me. we're finally done and it's time to shove off. the couch at the pad I've stayed at the last few times got bought by a guy in one of the openers (unfortunately, he put his echoplex too close to my bass cabinets and it erased the tapes it uses to make echo - whoops) and he invites us over but jer's already talked to the people who owned that pad we used to stay at - the pad is sold but we're going to their new one. byes and thanks to all the nice people at vzd. we follow matt and terri home and I lay out quick on the couch cuz my head is stuffed up and I'm worn from the gig. matt's sitting on the couch talking after making me some yogi tea but one bit of mota and I konk in mid-sentence. sorry, matt.
monday, may 26 - amarillo, tx
pop and hit the head for both relief and a hose down. I meet jeff who spent the night over cuz he was too sauced. he's a nice man and obviously reads the diaries cuz he asks if I just popped. last night him and matt were really nice to me, they're big minutemen fans. I find the fixings for coff and make some of that up. memorial day. the best one I ever had in my life was year before last, I thought about my pop much, even got to air those thoughts out in front of a very kind and generous heart. saw some navy boats even. saw a home film of an officer getting married, walking under the swords and everything. that was first time for me, my pop was an enlisted man and got as high as those cats get, senior chief (a chief is like a sergeant if it was the army instead of the navy). my ma told me the navy asked my pop to be an officer but he declined, not his gig. me knowing my pop, I can understand why. I sure miss him. I have to say it was trippy thinking about him on memorial day, maybe sometimes I do but maybe that's cuz I think of him 'pert-near every day - like w/d. boon. that memorial day was different and so maybe this one is kind of too. last year I don't now where my head was at except to try and keep it together for tour - I still had a few weeks left to go at that point. maybe my mind's wandering the way it is cuz there's no gig tonight... what? this was the only planned day off except when I got the call for that stooges thing and had to make room for three days to get back west, prac and do it. cuz of the sickness that came on me, I had to miss one further day. lots of hurting involved though so I wouldn't call those days off... I got a little sniffle yesterday but I don't know if that's from sickness of an allergy. I don't have fever or big aches - more like runny eyes and a plugged up left nostril. glad tour's wrapping up cuz watt's a little worn from this one.
matt makes me an omelette w/lots of good veggies in it, big thanks to him. he's also got a tape of the "oakie noodlin'" documentary that erik told us about way in the beginning of the tour, back in portland. makes me feel like we're coming around full circle, giving the tour a sense of it reaching completion. actually, this is just the trailer and not the whole piece. it's got lots of good parts from it though, guys talking serious about stuff that can be taken as kind of comical. one of them says, "I like the feeling of skin on skin, knuckle to jaw" (again, noodlin' is pulling fish out of the water by reaching your hand into the mud and letting them bite onto it). one cat displays humility by saying something like he thought he was the best noodler 'till he came to this competition and found out there were better ones than him. it was something he could live w/though, in fact he said he took comfort in the idea that something great was being passed on and the art might never completely die. there's something in those thoughts that can be applied to a lot of different parts of life. it gave me as much to think about as it did to laugh at.
we say our good byes and thank yous, then head west on I-40. I have jer on the wheel so I can rest for this sinus stuff. jer shaved his head (or rather, had paul shave it) and now all these pimples have broke out across his skull... ooh. he's even started naming them. between those things and the farts, you know there's foulness in his chemistry somehow. I want him healthy - he's got to stay around and be strong to raise that god daughter of mine! it's a straight shot into the panhandle of texas and we hit amarillo around four. those cats from the band thick that opened up for us when we played here at the beginning of the tour (damn, how long ago that seems!) have invited us over for a q and to konk so we can split the hellride to albuquerque in half. skitz and ryan welcome us aboard and they start cooking up the meat. it's not strictly texas cuz there's some other q ingredients too like frito salad, potato salad and baked beans. there still is a lot of meat though. there must be like four or five local bass players that come over and talkw/me about well, bass. there all very nice cats and the vibe here is oh so friendly. the weather is calm too - there's clouds above but no rain. a little bad luck w/the cooking, I guess the fire got up a little too heavy - I don't know cuz I was in the pad talking bass. I do know there's a little bit of a carbon coating going but nothing that doesn't keep from eating two brats, a burger and two chicken breasts plus those side things I mentioned earlier. it's like I'm chowing three days worth what I've been doing regularly on tour. I just can't that heavy w/out risking either blowing it out on stage (either the "in" or "out" door) or not having fire to give it my best. I try to chow as far ahead of having to go on stage too. light stuff also, like soups and salads mainly and then sometimes a trippier heavier thing for variety. this just helps me do the best I can, as time goes on I find myself changing inside so I try to adjust w/that. that's why I cut the drinking, for example. I'm gonna get taken out anyway so why help that process? today I chow big time w/some texas cats, alright.
they got a 'puter here and I show paul the tour diaries I've written up. he starts skimming for where I've written about him - it's funny but I guess probably understandable. later, he reads to me from his handwritten diary - a passage where he talks about that piss bottle fell overy when jer had it up on the deck to get photographed. the way he's got it written, it sounds like me and jer are into spilling piss, like we set the whole thing up to happen - like I "enjoyed" it even. maybe this is his perception but it's certainly a misrepresentation of what really went down. people bring their own baggage w/their "reporting" and I'm definitely no exception but I'm wondering now that paul has seen what I've written and now how I've called him on his "documenting" of the spilt piss incident that he'll skew his future writings, maybe even go back and edit what's already been writ. it's human nature, not a fault of paul - that's what I think. even the way paul read his words, he was using a style much different than the one he uses when he talks, like he's expecting a different universe for the diaries to exist in. for me, it's much more a stream of consciousness thing and I don't even proofread them, hence lots of the idiotic typos and clumsy language. what I want to do is give folks an impression of what it's like for watt to be on tour, like from the gut or whatever. it's not something I use to finesse an "image" - I get lots of reactions to my tour spiels where some folks think I'm too hard on myself or whatever. I don't do them to beat up the guys who selflessly give their all to sail along and play w/me either. in fact, I feel quite, quite idebted to them - big time. I do have hopes in improving the way I can make my thoughts into something that's readable so this good prac too - like w/music and every time I pick up a bass - all investments in my future at trying to get down the road a little further w/my expression. paul's such a sweety, I love him much and wish I could reassure him more so he wouldn't get so defensive. he's done quite an admirable job w/just jumping in and helping us out like this. I've known him many years and he's taught me a lot. he's quite an interesting man and a very special person. ok, that's the way he saw the piss bottle thing, he might have some judgement calls on other issues too but I whatever, I love him dearly. I truly believe he has music running deep, deep within him and he's very much onto finding his inner voice w/it - he already has in many, many ways. I hope there's things he's gained from playing w/me and jer here on this tour. I know we're both big time grateful for his time, energy and passion. thank you much, paul.
all the other folks (besides me and paul) have been saucing here the whole time and now want to go record in a studio. I am too beat to give this a go, no disrespect cuz everyone's been great and a joy to spend w/on this spring day here in amarillo. they all head out and leave us here. paul's reading but I'm just so wrung out - this w/out even a gig! I fire up the 'puter to chimp diary but put it to the side after a bit and wouldn't you know it, konk takes me - just like that.
read week 7 of the tour diary
read week 9 of the tour diary
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